A play which portrays Jesus as a transsexual has faced strong criticism, ahead of its launch at a publicly-funded LGBT festival in Northern Ireland.
The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven is part of the Outburst Queer Arts Festival in Belfast, and is advertised with the tagline: “Jesus is a transsexual woman. And it is now she walks the earth.”
Director of The Christian Institute, Colin Hart, expressed disbelief that such an offensive production has benefited from funding from a public body.
Mr Hart said: “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland would never dream of funding a racist play, so why have they chosen to subsidise a show that so derides the Lord Jesus Christ, who all Christians worship?
“If people want to put on a play designed to cause gratuitous offence to Christians they should be left to pay for it themselves.
If people want to put on a play designed to cause gratuitous offence to Christians they should be left to pay for it themselves.
Additional funding came directly from DCAL, the Department for Social Development and public bodies including Belfast City Council. Private sector finance was provided by Lloyds Bank Foundation and Belfast’s Europa Hotel, among others.
The festival is described as a “celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) creativity for everyone”.
The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven depicts a transsexual Jesus returning to earth and retelling Bible stories with a “different slant”.
Its creator and performer, Jo (formerly John) Clifford – a transsexual man who describes himself as a practising Christian – told the BBC he had no interest in “mocking the church” or “being blasphemous or offensive”.
In 2009 around 300 Christians protested outside the Tron Theatre in Glasgow as the play was due to be aired there. They held up placards reading: “Jesus, King of Kings, Not Queen of Heaven”.
Hebrews 1:3 is quoted from the English Standard Version